BBMP, Bengaluru is going to the dogs

BBMP, Bengaluru is going to the dogs

The sharp rise in the number of stray dogs in Bengaluru lays bare the failure of the BBMP’s Animal Birth Control (ABC) Programme. According to the latest dog census figures, there are around 3,09,972 stray dogs in the city. In 2013, when the previous headcount of dogs was conducted, there were 1,85,000 strays. The number of dogs on the city’s streets has increased by almost one-and-a-half times. This is worrying as the BBMP has been claiming that it is assiduously implementing the ABC programme, under which stray dogs are to be rounded up, neutered, vaccinated against rabies and released in the areas from where they were picked up. The programme itself is not wrong and should not be blamed for the rise in the stray dog population. Rather, it is its lethargic and patchy implementation by the BBMP and NGOs mandated to carry it out that are to be blamed. The BBMP is supposed to be funding the NGOs to neuter and vaccinate the dogs, but its failure to reimburse them has resulted in the NGOs going slow on the implementation. Besides, some NGOs misuse such funds, too. The census reveals that 46% of the stray dogs have not been covered by the ABC programme. 

Stray dogs evoke extreme emotions among the general public. While dog lovers see them as gentle guardians of our roads, others view them as a menace. Aggressive dogs and those that are provoked tend to attack people, especially cyclists, children and the homeless. Dog-bite cases have spiralled in Bengaluru. This is a matter of grave concern as the bite of a dog that has not been vaccinated against rabies could be fatal. According to the World Health Organisation, India accounts for around 37% of all dog-bite deaths in the world.

Every stray is not dangerous, but that their numbers are rising and most of them are not being neutered or vaccinated is cause for concern. Many will seek extreme reactions. They can be expected to call for killing strays. This ‘solution’ is hardly the answer as it is inhumane and also illegal. Instead, BBMP needs to implement the ABC programme more seriously. Its claim that it is helpless in addressing the stray dog programme is a shameless abdication of responsibility. While the ABC programme is a long-term solution, the BBMP must accelerate short-term measures as well. It should encourage adoption of stray dogs by Bengaluru’s residents and improve garbage clearance to reduce man-animal conflicts at garbage dumps on our streets.

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